Last Updated on 22nd August 2022
Paul T Davies reviews The Last Return at the Traverse Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe 2022.
The Last Return.
A welcome return for Druid at the Fringe Festival, with Sonya Kelly’s biting satire about the struggle for the new world order. There are no tickets left for the hottest show in town, but the hopeful few join the queue for returns. The theatre foyer, a superb design by Francis O’Connor, is naturalistic and gives no hint of the surreal events that are about to unfold. There are many jokes about queueing and where the beginning of the queue is, resonating with every Fringe festival goer. But things take a dark turn as the struggle to be head of the queue intensifies as heavy, inclement weather sweeps in and a return ticket becomes more possible.
In charge of tickets, and tickets ONLY, with no responsibility for the queue, (it is expected that members of the queue will organise themselves in a civilised manner), is the Ticket Person, a wonderful performance by Anna Healy, sticking rigidly to her instructions and announcements until she has to get involved. Umbrella Woman, (Fiona Bell), is Scotland, fiercely independent, coveting the head of the queue, where Britain (Bosco Hoigan), is already in place, where he has been for every performance. Yet, because of a weak bladder, he has been unable to see a performance through to the end, and the theatre has a strict no-readmittance policy. Parachuting into the foyer comes America, (Fionn O Loingsigh), believing their rightful place is at the top, and needing the performance to help is military PTSD. There is an empty seat, with a backpack on it, belonging to a girl wo is in the café, and Naima Swaleh is the Woman in Pink, “waiting for a friend”, who is patient until such time she comments on the behaviour of Western Civilisation.
The cast are superb, playing every joke and tonal shift with ease. The play racks up the tension and laughs superbly, events taking place that the audience simply do not expect to happen! Its surreal farce says more about immigration and colonialisation than any other play I have seen on the subject and has the most unexpected and wonderful ending. Clever and biting, this is highly recommended.